At this weekend's growler hours, DC Brau will offer a sneak peak at a beer brewed with Colorado's Oskar Blues. The beer, an India Pale Ale, is designed in no small part to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia. We talked with Brau co-owner and -founder, Brandon Skall, to discuss the beer, which will be formally launched at Meridian Pint on Tuesday, March 17th.
DC Beer: How did this collaboration come about? What was the DC Brau – Oskar Blues relationship before this collaboration, and who pitched who on the beer?
Brandon Skall: The seeds of this collaboration were planted at the Craft Brewer's Conference (CBC) here in DC in 2013. Oskar Blues' Jeremy Rudolf and Jim Weatherwax visited our brewery during the conference and we hit it off. They really enjoyed our beers, we professed our love for Dale's Pale Ale, both the taste and as a canned craft beer pioneer. [ed: This makes sense, as both Dale's Pale Ale and The Public are hop-forward beers that straddle the line between American Pale Ales and IPAs.] We'd then run into each other at canned beer festivals, especially Jeremy, and continued to hang out. They asked us about a collaboration, and then we saw Jim again at a Ska Brewing afterparty at CBC in Denver last year. We followed up at the Great American Beer Festival in the fall, with our brewer Chris Graham coming up with the malt bill, emailing the folks at Blues. They wrote back with a hop bill. We had some concerns about getting access to some of the experimental hops, but they came through, and the timing worked out.
DCB: Oskar Blues is no stranger to beers that "smell like freedom," having brewed Deviant Dale's for some time now. How does this beer compare to that one?
BS: While both Corruption and Deviant feature Columbus, this beer has multiple exotic and experimental hops that add new levels of tropical and fruit forward dankness.
DCB: When describing beer flavors, people often use terms like "stone fruits" or "citrus." Some get more specific, for example "peaches," or "grapefruit pith." The tasting notes for this beer include the word "cannabis." Can you be more specific? Diesel or Kush? Blueberry or Strawberry or Bubblegum?
BS: As you know hops and cannabis are very closely related. The cannabis strains you mentioned have some of the same characteristics we find in the hops used in this beer.
Tangerine Dream – Juicy Bright Citrus
Blueberry Kush – Berry
Fruity Thai – Lemon and Melon
Dubbya Diesel – Earthy, Diesel, Citrus
Trainwreck – Earthy, Piney, Pungent
DCB: Will DC see both the Blues version of the beer and the Brau version to compare? Do you detect any differences between the versions?
BS: It’s exactly the same recipe. We have not tasted their finished beer yet, so it is hard to comment if there are any differences. Our brew team went out to Colorado to brew their batch, and they came here to brew at DC Brau earlier this winter.
DCB: Did Oskar Blues also can Smells Like Freedom, and where will cans be available in DC?
BS: That I'm not sure of yet.
DCB: What is the hopping schedule on this beer, boil versus dry-hopping and the like?
BS: Three stage hop regiment! TRIPLE HOPPED lol. Lots at the end of business [ed: so-called "hop-bursting"]. Experimental NJ007 and 05256 with Equinox in the dry hop.
DCB: What's the role of sugar in Smells Like Freedom?
BS: Sugar was added to boil to increase dryness and boost ABV.
DCB: If the Feds step in on Initiative 71, the referendum that legalized marijuana in DC, and the City Council's implementation will you brew a protest beer, and if so, have you given any thought to what that might be?
BS: We haven’t thought about that yet. This beer is actually intended as a protest beer in response to Congress’ intent to deny the will of 70% of DC’s voting citizens who voted in favor of Initiative 71 last fall.
DCB: The press release, see below, reefers to the collaboration as a "joint project." Do you think people will see what you did there? Did you see what I did there?
BS: Very astute observation Mr. Berg.
DCB: Did you think about calling the beer "Smells like Otto's Jacket?"
BS: Though we are all avid Simpson’s fans, the concept of “Freedom” was very important to us concerning the branding of this project. I wrote a lengthy email explaining our recent election results and Congress’s reaction to the election to our friends at Oskar Blues when we were discussing branding. They actually came back with the name “Smells Like Freedom” and we all loved it!
DCB: My understanding is that it would be perfectly legal for DC Brau to "dry-hop" a cask of Smells Like Freedom with up to an ounce of marijunana, so long as it is not sold and is instead given away for consumption in a private residence. Wink once if you have plans to do this, wink twice if not.
BS: This isn’t happening, so don’t get too excited!
DCB: Unrelated, have you seen anyone shotgun a crowler yet, and if so, what was the beer?
BS: No, but I trust you will be the first!
DCB: Um, nope.
AME: Smells Like Freedom
STYLE: American India Pale Ale
MALTS: Canadian 2-row, Cara Pils, C-60
HOPS: Columbus, Equinox, Experimental Variety NJ007, Experimental Variety 05256
Smells Like Freedom is a big, juicy hop-bomb of an IPA with a nice medium body that is slightly dried out thanks to the addition of sugar the brewing kettle. The hop profile is huge. Notes include resiny, piney, earthy, sticky, cannabis and white pepper with aromas of cannabis, tangerine and sugar-coated ruby red grapefruit to entice the drinker. Smells Like Freedom drinks with a subtle punch of bitterness upfront that fades into a pleasant, palate-coating bitterness that attractively lingers and asks for another sip. This one is sure to please beer geeks and IPA fans with many layers of flavor upon flavor.
DC BRAU COLLABORATES WITH OSKAR BLUES ON SEASONAL IPA THAT SMELLS LIKE FREEDOM
Brewery Uses Latest Release to Support Ongoing Fight for DC Home Rule
Washington, DC – March, 2015 – On March 17th, DC Brau Brewing Company, in collaboration with Oskar Blues Brewing in Longmont, Colorado, will release its latest limited-edition seasonal brew, Smells Like Freedom. Only 120 barrels of the American India Pale Ale (IPA) were brewed for distribution, which will be offered in can only in the District of Columbia and on draft in greater circulation where DC Brau is available.“The Smells Like Freedom collaboration was a great opportunity for us to brew a cool, interesting beer with colleagues we greatly admire, while at the same time heightening the awareness about the need to establish Home Rule in the District that most people might not understand,” says Brandon Skall, CEO & co-founder of DC Brau Brewing Company.The two breweries have been looking for a joint project to work on together for some time. After the actions taken by Congress following last November’s elections in D.C., both felt Initiative 71 offered a unique opportunity to take a stand. Smells Like Freedom is a big, juicy hop-bomb of an IPA (7% ABV) with a nice medium body that is slightly dried out thanks to the addition of sugar the brewing kettle. The hop profile is huge. Notes include resiny, piney, earthy, sticky, cannabis and white pepper with aromas of cannabis, tangerine and sugar-coated ruby red grapefruit to entice the drinker. Smells Like Freedom drinks with a subtle punch of bitterness upfront that fades into a pleasant, palate-coating bitterness that attractively lingers and asks for another sip. This one is sure to please beer geeks and IPA fans with many layers of flavor upon flavor.DC Brau will officially release Smells Like Freedom at Meridian Pint (3400 11th Street NW, WDC; www.meridianpint.com) on Tuesday, March 17th starting at 5pm.“The tagline stamped on the can says it all,” says DC Brau’s Head Brewer & co-founder Jeff Hancock.“Votes Should Count.”Founded as a brewpub by Dale Katechis in 1997, OSKAR BLUES BREWERY launched the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse in 2002 using a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. In 2008, the makers of the top-selling pale ale in ColoRADo, Dale's Pale Ale, moved into a 35,000-square-foot facility in Longmont, ColoRADo. The brewery has since experienced explosive growth-from packaging 59,000 barrels of beer in 2011 to 149,000 barrels in 2014. In December 2012, Oskar Blues opened the doors to an expansion brewery in Brevard, North Carolina. Recently, Oskar Blues secured an additional 60,000 square feet at its Colorado location to expand its production footprint. Oskar Blues now distributes trail-blazing craft brews to 41 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Canada, Sweden, and the U.K.Located in Northeast Washington, DC, DC BRAU BREWING COMPANY was established in 2009 by co-founders Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock. Both DC locals, the pair shares a passion for brewing, complimented by years of experience in beverage distribution. DC Brau’s signature brews include: The Public (Pale Ale), The Corruption (IPA), The Citizen (Belgian style Ale), On the Wings of Armageddon (Imperial IPA) and Penn Quarter Porter (Robust Porter), with seasonal and special brews available throughout the year. For more information on DC Brau, visit http://www.dcbrau.com, and follow on Twitter @dcbrau.